Less than half an hour into my hands-on preview of Far Cry 6, I'm asked to meet with a potentially valuable ally to the guerilla resistance at a bar in a nearby town. I find Juan Cortez drinking alone. At least, he appears to be alone.
"That thing can't be here," the barkeeper growls in Cortez's general direction, drawing my attention to a small alligator resting by the man's feet. For some reason the reptile is wearing a football shirt. I'm not sure I mind.
Cortez sizes me up for a moment. "Can you whistle?", he asks me as he sets down his drink. "Nah," he decides. "You can't whistle."
I have nothing to prove to this stranger, but decide to humour him. I whistle. In a flash, the alligator is up and running towards me. He leaps over me and onto the guard who was attempting to sneak up and apprehend us, tearing the poor guy apart in a shower of crimson.
And that's the story of how I met Guapo the alligator.
Far Cry 6 is a game of extremes. In one moment, you'll watch in horror as Giancarlo Esposito's fascist dictator Antón Castillo shoots an old woman in the face at point blank range before ordering his men to gun down a boat full of refugees. In the next, you'll be running alongside Guapo the alligator burning down a tobacco field with a massive home-made flamethrower that's been strapped to your back by an unstable old man.
It's incredibly jarring, gloriously violent, and heaps of fun. In other words, it's a Far Cry game.
Far Cry 6 takes place on the fictional island of Yara, the largest open-world map in a Far Cry game to date. The lush green jungles are thick with foliage, and the shimmering crystal blue sea laps lazily against white sand beaches. This is an undeniably gorgeous setting for the game and the series has never looked better.
Of course, we're not here for a holiday. In Far Cry 6 you'll play as Dani Rojas, a former soldier who's desperate to get the heck away from the fighting. It's not much of a spoiler to tell you they don't quite realise this ambition.
Rojas' story starts as we follow him/her (depending on your choice) attempting to flee Yara's oppressive regime to go to America. Presumably in this fictional world there is no oppression in America, idk. Before long, Rojas is caught up with a band of guerilla fighters dedicated to fighting Castillo and his fascist forces so that they can finally bring revolution to Yara.
There are the bones of something truly new in the opening moments of Far Cry 6. Rojas is a protagonist with a genuine personality, for one thing - or at least the female version of the character is based on what I played. That in itself is a major departure from the vapid one-note action heroes of previous Far Cry games.
The setting also promises a change from the tropical islands and wilds of the past... at least at first. Players will guide Rojas on a nail-bitingly tense escape through a sprawling city, leading me to believe much of the focus of Far Cry 6 would lie in a crumbling metropolis - a truly new kind of location for the franchise.
Unfortunately within the first ten minutes you're back in the same kind of beach/jungle/wilderness that you're used to from previous games, gliding off mountains and scoping out enemy bases to tag enemies before going in and picking them off with a combination of stealth and gunplay. Like I said before, it's Far Cry.
I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but the few hours I spent with Far Cry 6 are perhaps a little too familiar. My only hope is that we do get to head back to the big city for more than a brief stay or a handful of contained missions. Because honestly? I'm kind of done with the mysterious tropical island thing at this point. Far Cry 6's action is as silky smooth as it's ever been, but being able to make use of my skills in a thoroughly new location would be the real game-changer.
At least there are new toys to play with to keep things relatively fresh. An emphasis on picking the right gear for the right missions replaces the traditional skill tree and allows for greater flexibility when approaching missions. You don't have to stay locked into stealth just because that's where you've invested the most points; simply change your loadout to something a little more suited to a full-on firefight, and you can dive in all guns blazing. When you get bored of that? Head back into the shadows, by all means.
Rojas also gets a neat new series of cooldown-based powers that effectively work in the same way as Overwatch's Ultimate Abilities. Early on in the game, you'll be able to press a button to unleash a ridiculous barrage of missiles that lay waste to everything around you when enemies start to overwhelm. There are a handful of these powers to be unlocked and equipped, each with their own unique strengths and perks. It's a neat idea that can often turn an already chaotic battlefield into a burning hellhole.
Perhaps more than any other Far Cry, Far Cry 6 demands you prepare for missions properly. "The right tool for the job" is something multiple NPCs tell you over and over again during the first hour, and Ubisoft really wants you to listen. Craft the right kind of ammo, make sure you've got suitable guns, and then double check everything. Yara is brutal.
Going into an enemy base blind has never been more dangerous, with enemies that are more than capable of gunning you down in seconds if you don't observe and plan accordingly. Alas, the majority of this prep-work once again boils down to the same "find vantage point/tag enemies" nonsense that's somehow become a key part of Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon, and Far Cry.
But for all the new tools and not so many new tricks that Far Cry 6 throws at you, it's the animal companions (or "amigos") that really steal the show. We've already seen plenty of Chorizo, the adorable dachshund that managed to take the internet by storm earlier this year. I can confirm that this smol doggo is indeed a fine companion to have by your side as he trundles around Yara, but he's also just the tip of the iceberg.
Guapo the alligator is another solid addition to the game's cast. Players have been able to roam with conventionally cute animals in past Far Cry games - Far Cry 5 had a bear called Cheeseburger for God's sake - but Guapo's brilliance lies in the fact Ubisoft hasn't tried to make him cute. He is what he is: a f*cking terrifying alligator that waddles around after you and rips enemies apart, often whether you ask him to or not. Oh, and don't worry: you can pet him.
During my playthrough I also met Chicharrón, the magnificent fighting rooster who makes Guapo look like a teddy bear. Chicharrón is an utterly unpredictable force of nature, one that darts through firefights like a rooster possessed by the devil himself. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about the guy, but I have to hand it to Ubisoft for the sheer inventiveness of getting a massive punk rock rooster into a AAA shooter. It also looks like there'll be a couple more animal friends to meet later in the game, but we weren't shown that far ahead sadly.
Far Cry 6's animal buddies are great fun to travel with, and one of the immediate highlights of my time with the game so far. While they don't really add anything too substantial in terms of gameplay outside of soaking up bullets from enemies while you tear it up, they're a constant reminder of the unpredictable and cartoonishly brutal world Dani finds herself in.
I have my concerns about Far Cry 6. I'm worried Castillo's clearly much darker and intense story will be at odds with the rest of the zany open world action we engage with, and I'm really nervous that Yara doesn't have anything inherently new to offer players beyond a few tweaks to the well-established formula.
We'll find out for sure when Far Cry 6 launches October 7, I suppose. Absolute worst case scenario? Well, even a Far Cry game that doesn't try anything new is still a Far Cry game, and that comes with a guaranteed good time... up to a point.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read